The standoff and China’s India policy dilemma

For China, which has long been preoccupied with its relentless pursuit to approach the centre of the world and in managing a turbulent relationship with the United States, the June 15 incident of a violent face-off between Chinese and Indian troops at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), causing casualties on both sides, came as a big jolt.

It brought the national focus back on an otherwise not-so-popular topic of China-India relations. The development took China’s strategic community by storm, while the intense debate and discussions that followed, rather than generating a consensus, brought out China’s many dilemmas vis-à-vis India.

No accident
On one side of the debate are China’s top India watchers such as Lin Minwang and Zhang Jiadong, from Fudan University, and Li Hongmei from the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS) among others, who believe that the present conflict is not an “accident” but an “inevitable result” of what they perceive as “India’s long-standing speculative strategy on the China-India border”. From Doklam to Kashmir to India’s “unending infrastructure arms race” at the LAC, they say, Beijing was “fed up” and “had to teach India a lesson”.

Their key argument is that China-India relations hold no great prospect in the current international situation. There is no possibility of a negotiated settlement of the border dispute any time soon. India is already a “quasi-ally” of the U.S. with no scope for reversal.

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